Go Kit

Much has been written about amateur radio supplies one may need in an emergency. Here are some ideas; feel free to pass additional suggestions to me for potential inclusion.

One fact that many people forget is that a Go Kit may not always be for use at the local high school when the Red Cross turns it into a shelter. In severe disasters the local hams are looking after family, digging their way out, and probably not able to operate. In such cases hams from the surrounding area (often several hundred miles) are invited by the local authorities or an organization such as the Red Cross, SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network).


Once a disaster occurs and hams begin providing communications, there is a need for relief, but your services might be needed hours or even days after the event. If you’re needed, their emergency coordinator (EC) will work through the state department of emergency management, who will contact our ECs to coordinate support.


Go Kit Radio Stuff

Mobile VHF (if possible VHF/UHF) transceiver: Our shelters are supposed to have radios delivered by the city, but in a disaster there are no guarantees.

Headphones: Disaster recovery, shelter operations, and the emergency operations center all tend to be noisy. Make sure you also have adapters to fit 1/4” as well as 1/8” connections, and any other sizes your radio uses. Headphones with an integrated microphone keep your hands free for writing; you can adapt most video game headsets for radio use—but preferably before you deploy.

Magnetic mount antenna: You can hang a mag-mount by attaching the magnet to the ceiling frame, on top of a filing cabinet, refrigerator, etc.

J-Pole antenna: Copper tubing is the best, but a twin lead J-Pole is better than nothing.

Every antenna adapter you own: There’s nothing worse than having a radio and an antenna that can’t connect. With the new Chinese radios there are far more combinations than in the past.

Ham radio hat, name tag, etc.: You’ll want people to know you’re the communicator—and put in a plug for amateur radio.

Handie-talkie: These are handy for staying connected with nearby hams, such as another shelter communicator. They are not the best method for communicating with net control, but sometimes you have to switch to plan “B.” Don’t forget extra batteries and a charger.

Clipboard: Make sure you’ve got plenty of paper and lots of pencils and pens; after you gather these, go get a few more pencils and pens. An additional notebook you can keep in your pocket (or a stack of index cards) is also helpful. Remember—you will be logging all messages and contacts.

Standard ICS message forms: I will try to get these posted to the website in the near future.

Laptop computer: Ideally this would be loaded with a repeater directory, the software to reprogram your radio(s), as well as APRS and packet programs. Don’t forget the charger and cables needed to connect the laptop to the computer. If you don’t use soundcard based software, you’ll need a TNC with cables, power supply, etc.

Equipment operators’ manuals: You will forget how to [fill in the blank] with your radio. You can download PDF versions of most manuals and keep those on your laptop.

Small tool kit: Hopefully this is something that you routinely carry in your car. Make sure you have both metric and SAE sizes.

Multi-tool on your belt: This will augment the small toolkit.

Gaffer’s tape (also known as 100 MPH duct tape): Don’t forget that tape gets gunky as it ages. The five year old stuff in the shack may not work well.

Portable soldering iron and solder: These are now pretty cheap and available at Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, etc. I prefer the butane over the electric models. Don’t forget extra batteries or butane.

Go Kit Personal Stuff

This should probably be a designated separate backpack.

Prescription medications

Suitable clothing: You may be assigned to work inside a nice, dry, warm shelter, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be making trips out into the weather to provide observations, or to be in a better position for making a contact. If it’s bad, have practical outdoor shoes/boots and something more comfortable for inside; this will let the other shoes dry out.

Toiletries: If you’ve been stuck somewhere for a few days stubble on the chin may not be a problem, but you’ll appreciate a toothbrush in a hurry.

Clean underwear

Clean socks, especially if you may encounter wet conditions

Other clothes

Snacks: You cannot count on food being available; it usually is, but bring your own. If you chew gum, it helps if you’re on the air a lot.

Cell Phone: It may work, it may not, but it’s a great small camera. Remember, if the cell system is overloaded, sometimes a text message can get through when a phone call can’t; it’s a smaller packet, requires less bandwidth and less complex interfacing.

Water: A bottle or two is probably sufficient to hold you over until supplies arrive. If the faucet water is safe, refill the bottles so you have them at your operating position.

A good book: You may face long periods of boredom interspersed with periods of sheer overload. A book, collection of crossword puzzles, or other diversion is well appreciated. If you have power, a video game or books can be loaded onto that. If you have a tablet, use the laptop for work and the tablet for entertainment.

Wallet: You’ll probably need some form of identification. Having a printout of your ham license (technically it’s no longer a license, it’s a grant, which is why the FCC no longer sends paper copies) may come in handy.

Cash: You can’t count on the ATMs, point of sale computers, etc. to be working. Having small bills and coinage will allow you to provide exact change for a purchase. Most clerks are not attuned to making change.

Small first aid kit: You won’t need a lot—just some bandaids and antibiotic cream, acetaminophen, etc.

I’m sure we’ll be adding to the list, but at least it’s a start.


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